Thursday, May 30, 2013

paint, but no progress

I painted a little on Memorial Day, but I got wrapped up in trying some speed-painting techniques on an orc berserker from Reaper instead of the Moria project. Gaming is tonight, so not likely to do anything then. However, our painting club is this weekend, so I hope to make some more progress on the balrog if nothing else. If I am really clever, I'll make the other tentacles between now and then so I can work on those too.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Sucker Punch

I worked on the Watcher tentacles last night. I used a tip from Sytgianheart and added suckers using little press blobs of greenstuff. I super-glued them to the dried tentacle and pressed in the center with the wooden end of a detail paintbrush. Overall, I am pleased with the results. This arm may have to be just a prototype, though. I think I can do better with the sizing and spacing of the suction cups. You can see the effect is cool, though.

I also worked on the cracked lava skin of the balrog. Both shoulders are blacked in now. I added a yellow ink wash to tone down the white parts that showed through, but I think it may be too much yellow. A little more white left showing would have been better, IMO.

This weekend I may try working on the pool some more. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Watery Works (many pics)

I was going to work on the balrog last night, but that didn't quite work out. I did manage to do some work on the Watcher in the Water portion of the set.

Back when I had made the modular river for Song of Blades and Heroes skirmishes, I had cut a bunch of other pieces of MDF in various shapes. The plan was to use them for things like swampy ground and ponds. The largest of them was for a small lake.

I pulled that out and decided it was big enough for the pool in front of the entrance to Moria. First I placed the board on a piece of foam core.

(The grid in background are 1" squares from a Chessex mat)

Next I traced it. Since the foam core was black I used a white correction fluid pen.

Once the trace was dry, I cut it out with an Xacto knife.
I traced an internal line about 1" from the edge of the foam core and cut that out.

The resulting ring will be the "shore" of the lake. I glued it down and put a couple heavy books on it to hold it flat while it dried.

The next phase will be to shape and bevel the edges a little, as well as fill them with some spackling or pumice to make them seem more natural. When that's done, I'll paint it. 

While that was drying, I took a first stab at a greenstuff Watcher tentacle. It's about 3 1/2" long, rolled around some copper wire. I made the sucker marks with the end of a detail brush handle and the point of a toothpick. It's pretty basic, but I think I'm on the right track. I may have to paint it up before I can decide.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Prepping for a push

I haven't gotten much painting or sculpting done the last week or so, but I have gotten the basement cleared out a little. That will make working on this project (and painting in general) a bit easier. Also, the warmer weather will make things like outdoor spray priming or sealing easier to manage.

I'm on the precipice of a major surge of painting & terrain productivity. Honest!

Monday, May 13, 2013


Well, not literally. But I got sniped on the eBay auction, so no Watcher tentacles for me. I think I may take a stab at sculpting some. Who knows? Could be fun!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Shadow & Flame WIPs

As promised, here are a few pics of the balrog so far. Apologies again for the less than great photos. I need to set up my camera stuff properly again.

You can see how I covered the "fiery" area with white first, then added yellow and orange. Flame is tricky because you sort of "reverse shade" it. The brightest colors/shades are in the deepest recesses.

This side is closer to done. I've added the cooled skin basecoat back on in places.

Compare and contrast.

You can see some freehand cracks in the wings with the fire showing through. Again, just white then yellow and orange. (You can see a little of the same on the wings' undersides in the first pic.)

There is a similar fire effect inside the mouth, but it still needs some work. 

And there you have it. Besides a Dheneb Stone basecoat on the base. To be continued.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Watching for the Watcher

I mentioned GW's Watcher in the Water before. For those who are unaware, the current model is the second version of the creature for the LOTR game. Originally, there were just six independent tentacles on 1" bases. Now it's the whole monster (head & all). The drawback to that, apart from the price, is the idea that the tentacles can't be positioned separately around the pool. 

The old version:

The new one:

GW can suck it, re: images on the page.

I found a "tentacles-only" set on eBay. Hopefully I'll win that auction. However, I did see an interesting scratchbuilt version online over at The One Ring. You can see the image over at the member's photobucket page

I don't know about you, but I think that's pretty darned impressive. It's inspired me to make an attempt at modelling a head for the beasty. Time to break out the Sculpey!


I made some good progress on the balrog at the painting club Sunday. Mostly I worked on the "fiery interior/lava" effect. I'll post some WIP pics soon. Basically I had to paint the mane and shoulders white, then paint in the recesses of the cracks and the mane with yellow. I followed that with a thinned, semi-transparent orange. The real pain is going back and repainting the surface with black. I also freehanded some "splits" in the wings to show lavafire peeking through. Once that's all done, I'll probably get to work on the firesword.

I still need to find a good solution for the Watcher's tentacles, too.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Some Cruddy "Before" Phone Pix of the Balrog

Primed and based.

The sword hand had cracked off at one point. It was a separate piece to begin with, so I just re-pinned and re-glued, so the black primer gaps there. You can see a little of the basing detail I did (crumbled bricks, a shattered shield, etc.). They should look pretty cool once I've painted them up. 

I plan on trying for the whole "molten fire inside" look with flames for the crest on his back. 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Old Moria Pics

Here are some shots of the minis and cardstock scenery I used in the old terrain set.
The orcs rushing Balin's Tomb with the Fellowship inside.

Awaiting the assault

 The trolls fording the fire with stone slabs as the Fellowship races for the bridge.

The bridge ahead

My original balrog. Reaper's Narglauth. He's obviously balroggy, but the GW is a goodly bit bigger.

To give you an idea of scale, those are 1" squares on the mat below Nargluath, and the balrog's base is 2" in diameter. I'll post a pic of the unpainted balrog I have at home later tonight or tomorrow. 

Go Big or Go Home

I've been letting this blog (and my painting) really slide lately. Part of that is the fact that I've just been busy. Part of it is also that much of my gaming time has been taken up by writing modules for Faster Monkey Games.

Even though I managed to get to the painting club month in March, I haven't done much else. I've been been missing the old paintbrush (and making terrain), and the dark elves haven't been holding my interest enough. I still intend to finish them, but I think I need a "Project."

The Project?


Now, I'm not going to make the ENTIRE realm of Khazad Dum and populate it with dwarves, orcs, and balrogs, but I am going to make a 3D terrain set for running skirmishes (probably SBH or SGD) in LOTR-style goodness. 

I should mention that I plan on using the books as the basis for the maps, not the movie. Mostly there isn't a LOT of difference, but if you see something that you didn't see Viggo and Orlando sprinting past, that's why. I plan on using Karen Wynn Fonstad's "Atlas of Middle Earth" as a major reference.


Location, location, location: The way I see it, it needs to have at least the three main "scenes":
  1. The Watcher in the Water
  2. Balin's Tomb
  3. The Bridge of Khazad Dum
It would be nice to be able to set up a generic chamber or hallway in the mines as well. 

Modularity: I don't have room for the whole thing to be of a piece, so I need to be able to break it down and set it up relatively easily. 

Durability: I had a Moria set once, made from WorldWorks Games's excellent folding scenery, but it got sort of smashed up. I want this to be a little tougher. I have GW's starter set for the LOTR game, which includes some nice bits (pillars, etc.) so I'll be raiding that  for bits. I will also probably use some Hirst Arts blocks as well. (I'll post pictures of the old Moria set if I can find them.)

I have a nice, thick square of 1" plywood that's painted a very dark gray with sand for texture. I may have to lighten that a few shades, but it will be the board that the scenery rests on.

Minis: I have (as you know) quite a few orcs, so I feel the denizens are fairly well covered there. I have a few cave troll types, too. From my previous set, I have the FOTR (Gandalf, etc.) and I have some "Skull Pass" GW dwarves. All set, right?

Wellllll, almost. I need two things.

The Watcher in the Water

and this guy

I own a GW balrog. I've even based and primed him. He "just" needs to be painted. The watcher is a different kettle of tentacles. I don't fancy paying GW prices for the "official" one, so I may go with some bits like Reaper's "Creature Components", or maybe convert the "Well of Doom." We'll see what looks like the best choice. I want the tentacles to be independent (not connected), so they can strike from different parts of the pool.

Speaking of the pool, I'll need to make up a murky pond bit of MDF scenery for that, as well as the door into Moria (maybe a river of lava, too?). The bridge should be "breakable" as well. 

Lastly, the rules. I'm confident Song of Blades and Heroes or Song of Gold and Darkness can give me most of what I need, but warbands will need to be worked out, along with skirmish conditions. 

So what's the first step? I think I'll begin with ol' Smokey up there. Let's get that balrog painted to set the mood. After all –

"There are older and fouler things than orcs in the deep places of the earth."

I'll take him to the painting club this weekend. 

WIP pics to follow.